Peace Corps Reviews

Updated September 2, 2015
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Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet
Carrie Hessler-Radelet
158 Ratings

Pros
  • You get to learn a new language and understand a different culture the way many will never get the opportunity to (in 33 reviews)

  • Supervisors are host country nationals (in 22 reviews)

Cons
  • Admin doesn't quite understand the realities of being a volunteer, but that depends country to country (in 23 reviews)

  • There is a five-year rule in place which means most who work for Peace Corps cannot make a long-term career out of it (in 8 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

530 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    The mission is noble but the management of it is not

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Country Desk Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Country Desk Officer in Washington, DC

    Pros

    The mission of Peace Corps, as first outlined by President Kennedy, remains true today. The noble acheivements and enthusiasm by Volunteers past and present are the fuel that keeps this organization alive. Interaction with volunteers can be invigorating and rewarding. The management here is understanding if you need some extra time off to deal with any issues, and there is enough downtime to get in a good vacation. The people that work here - from nurses to IT specialists, to desk jockeys to and consultants - are fantastic. While some are returned Peace Corps volunteers, many are not and yet still can identify with the underlying mission of providing to support to those who are supporting others. Peace Corps does good work and everyone here is so enthusiastic about what it is they do. It's a contagious feeling and a nice break from corporate go-get'em attitudes or the me-first attitude in other fed agencies.

    Cons

    Peace Corps is a "boutique" agency in the U.S. federal government - very refined towards a mission that contribute little to other agencies and departments outside of it. The Peace Corps is separated from the State Department, but the politics of where Peace Corps will operate is about as complicated and policy-driven as anything could be in Washington. If you love politicking and glad-handing, Peace Corps HQ is an ideal place for you. This place is loaded with political appointees - the White House treats this place as the consolation prize for people that couldn't get elected into office or simply know somebody that knows somebody. A downside of a boutique agency is its subsequent tiny budget. This place is about as cheap as they come. A downside is the five-year rule - the requirement that you must leave the agency after 5 years, and cannot return to the agency until another 5 years have elapsed. This is supposed to offer fresh thinking in the agency but all it does is contribute to brain drain and loss of institutional knowledge. Furthermore, I am convinced that employees here are chewed up and spit out, without much attention to professional growth and preparation to leave the agency, which everyone must do (except for those appointees!).

    Advice to Management

    Empower your employees, share information, allow for continuing education, let your staff travel overseas more often, allow for enhanced responsibility and upward mobility. Reward your staff with bonuses or time off awards so they understand the value of their contributions. Finally - enough with the speeches about how we'll do everything to support the volunteer. How about supporting your own staff, who you see and work with everyday? It sure seems like you'd move mountains for people you don't even know, but when we ask for a raise or to go travel, you act like we shot your dog.


  2. Helpful (2)

    Supporting a mission that is second to none gets makes you want to come to work every day.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Manager in Washington, DC
    Recommends

    Pros

    The mission of the Peace Corps is first rate. Supporting the work of the Peace Corps Volunteers around the world is truly an honor and a worthwhile reason to come to work every day. Like any Federal job, there are issues that come with it but this is largely avoided compared to other organizations since tenure is limited to 5 years. Institutional knowledge and employee development could be better, but efforts are made in these areas. Don't expect to make a lifelong career here, or to advanced to high positions quickly. The organization will continue to evolve and should adapt over the next few years to bring itself firmly into the 21st century.

    Cons

    Career advancement is limited; tenure is limited by law to 5 years. Employment development and training opportunities are also limited. The organization is bottom heavy and top management jobs are limited and difficult to obtain.

    Advice to Management

    Need to get a better understanding of issues on an operational level.


  3. Helpful (1)

    A great job and wonderful experience as long as you can tolerate an inadequate, overworked, blame driven support staff.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Volunteer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Volunteer in Washington, DC
    Recommends

    Pros

    To live in another country, help underdeveloped communities, and experience the world in ways we could never in America.

    Cons

    Management skills are wanting and support is almost non existent in Morocco. Hopefully, this is not the case in other countries.

    Advice to Management

    Give us an opportunity to do our jobs, do not micro manage, and listen to us. We are the ones in the field, we have valid perspectives that are in most cases more pertinent than your theory in Rabat. Furthermore, we were chosen by Washington to do this job because we are talented intelligent capable people. Please stop treating us like we are 5 years old.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Loving Peace Corps

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Chief in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Chief in Washington, DC
    Recommends

    Pros

    Everyone knows the mission (support the Volunteers) and the three goals of Peace Corps and they aren't plastered on the walls. Little red tape (for government), freedom to do your job and make changes to improve it, a team feeling, a great place to work in terms of people, very warm, truly one of the 10 best places to work in DC as it was rated by Washingtonian Magazine. Never heard anyone say "that's not the way we do it here". An openness to new ideas, new technology, and new ways of doing things throughout Peace Corps. You can have as big an impact as you want.

    Cons

    The five year rule. Every employee gets a two and a half year tour and if you do a good job, you can get a second tour which takes you to five years and then everyone leaves. It makes institutional memory weak but it is also one of the things that keep people focused on what they want to accomplish before they leave Peace Corps. A lot of turnover due to the five year rule means that you're always meeting new people and saying good bye to colleagues. We just went through a budget cut but it was realtively easy and not ugly.

    Advice to Management

    None.


  6. Helpful (1)

    A good organization, but with a lot of government inefficiency.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
    Former Employee - Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
    Recommends

    Pros

    The pride you feel and the support you recieve (as a Peace Corps Volunteer). The opportunity to do independent projects. The language and technical training are helpful and a good way to get new skills.

    Cons

    Budget cuts. Too much interference by Washington staff. Goals and objectives of each countries program are articulated at the local level but are sometimes not relevent. The application process lets in those who are not qualified or mature enough for service.

    Advice to Management

    Give equal support to all volunteers. Hold all volunteers accountable for producing results in the field.


  7. Helpful (2)

    Peace Corps - Being a PCV Is Great - Working at HQ Can Be an Less Great

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Country Desk Officer
    Current Employee - Country Desk Officer

    Pros

    The mission of the agency is in theory well-intentioned. The line workers at the agency headquarters are usually nice people, mostly RPCVs.

    Cons

    Management positions are largely political appointees (there are nearly thirty of them).

    Advice to Management

    Re-evaluate some of the ancient practices at HQ (some things seem to be based on processes defined in the 1960s and 70s).


  8. I got more out of the Peace Corps experience than I put in.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Community Economic Developer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Community Economic Developer in Washington, DC
    Recommends

    Pros

    It's a wondeful opportunity to use your imagination to create positive change in underserved areas.

    Cons

    Well it varies depending on which region you are assigned to but for me the isolation was the most difficult part of being a Peace Corps Volunteer. I was stationed in Azerbaijan but was unable to indicate that b/c this website doesn't give that as an option. They do have neighboring Armenia though which is smaller in most counts than Azerbaijan so I don't understand why it's not listed.

    Advice to Management

    Create a website for Peace Corps Volunteers to collaborate with each other instead of "reinventing the wheel" each time.


  9. It is great to volunteer with Peace Corps!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Volunteer
    Former Employee - Volunteer
    Recommends

    Pros

    My work was meaningful and not stressful. I made great relationships and had wonderful experiences.

    Cons

    Development work is not easy in general, and it can be lonely.

    Advice to Management

    I think that you could improve training for technical knowledge.


  10. Peace Corps still a great way to see the world and help others

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Peace Corps Volunteer
    Current Employee - Peace Corps Volunteer
    Recommends

    Pros

    The language training is excellent. You get to work with some of the most interesting people you'll ever meet. Being an RPCV looks great on a resume.

    Cons

    Your hands are somewhat tied when it comes to being able to speaking openly (especially when it reflects a negative viewpoint) about your host country.

    Advice to Management

    Get to know your volunteers. It's one thing to talk to them over the phone and to be receptive to them in the comfort of your office, but quite another to go out and stay with them even for a brief amount of time at their site.


  11. Great way to meet people, but don't apply if you like to feel sorry for yourself

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Education Volunteer (Mozambique) in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Education Volunteer (Mozambique) in Washington, DC
    Recommends

    Pros

    I met so many people while I was in Mozambique! I was like a celebrity. It was so great to understand what life is like for the majority of the people on it: baths out of buckets, rickety vibrant houses, and truly seasonal food selection. My host family was great. Once I got to site, I had some great opportunities to make a difference in my students' lives, because not all of them have anyone to look up to or maybe their parents don't hold them accountable for their actions, I could do that for them. I went to the bank 3 hours from my site, but when I got there I got to spend a day in a town where any other American who was there probably spent I got seemingly pretty advanced medical treatment for my knees, I was surprised that Peace Corps would pick up the tab for that but they did.

    Cons

    I say you shouldn't apply if you feel sorry for yourself because you need to be really optimistic while you're abroad, otherwise you might become a bitter volunteer, one of the people who is always complaining about your host country rather than forgiving it its faults and enjoying what it has to offer. The living allowance at training was plenty and would have been helpful if I'd saved some of it instead of spending it all on beer, the montly living allowance was not enough. My kids were not as hungry for knowledge and a "better" life as I thought they would be. Expect to repeat the words "Open your notebooks" a lot.

    Advice to Management

    If you have to administratively separate someone, treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Volunteers are giving two of the best years of their life to serve under you and deserve to be treated and considered as a respected employee even after the decision has been made to fire them.



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